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Higher Risk of Abnormal Gait in Intensive Systems

by 5m Editor
22 September 2009, at 9:45am

UK - In a study of commercial farms, researchers found fewer cases of abnormal gait in finishing pigs than sows or gilts. Pigs kept outdoors or on solid floors with straw had fewer mobility problems than those housed on fully or partly slatted floors.

The prevalence and risks for abnormal gait in finishing pigs, gilts and pregnant sows from a representative cross-section of indoor and outdoor herds in the United Kingdom were investigated in a report published by KilBride and colleagues in the journal, Animal Welfare.

The prevalence of abnormal gait in finishing pigs, maiden gilts, pregnant gilts and pregnant sows from 88 herds was 19.7, 11.8, 14.4 and 16.9 per cent, respectively.

In a multi-variable analysis of 98 herds, there was an increased risk of abnormal gait in pregnant sows housed on slatted floors compared with pregnant sows housed on solid concrete floors with straw bedding or sows housed outdoors on soil.

The lowest prevalence of abnormal gait in finishing pigs occurred in pigs housed outdoors (3.4 versus 19.7 per cent in indoor-housed finishing pigs). However, the difference was not significant because only three farms in the study housed finishing pigs outdoors. In indoor-housed finishing pigs, there was an increased risk of abnormal gait in pigs housed on solid concrete floors with sparse bedding, partly slatted floors or fully slatted floors compared with those housed on solid concrete floors with deep bedding in all areas. However, there were no significant associations between floor type and abnormal gait in gilts.

There was an increased risk of abnormal gait associated with increasing callus, bursitis and capped hock score on the limbs of finishing pigs. This might have occurred because limb lesions cause discomfort or because lame pigs spend more time lying and this increases the risk of limb lesions developing.

Reference

KilBride, A.L., C.E. Gillman and L.E. Green. 2009. A cross-sectional study of the prevalence of lameness in finishing pigs, gilts and pregnant sows and associations with limb lesions and floor types on commercial farms in England. Animal Welfare, 18 (3): 215-224.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.